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How is my property transferred if I die intestate?

March 19, 2014

Dying “intestate” simply means you did not have a will.  Each state has its own “intestate succession” laws.  Nevada is no exception.  How your property is distributed upon your death, depends primarily on which relatives survive you, or are still living at that time.
The Laws of Intestate Succession in Nevada.
Generally, only assets that you own alone in your name only will pass through intestate succession.  Examples of property that does not pass through intestate succession, assuming the beneficiaries or joint owners are living at your death include:

  • Any assets you transferred into a living trust,
  • life insurance proceeds,
  • funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account
  • securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • payable-on-death bank accounts
  • vehicles held by transfer-on-death registration, or
  • property you own with someone else in joint tenancy or as community property with the right of survivorship.

Instead, these assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will.
Which relatives are in line to inherit in Nevada?
If you have children when you die, but no spouse, parents or siblings, then your children will inherit your estate. Next in line would be your spouse, parents and your siblings, in that order.
Because Nevada is a Community Property state, your spouse will inherit your share of the community property upon your death.  “Community property” is property acquired while you were married, except gifts and inheritances given to only one spouse, even if acquired during marriage.
So, if you have a spouse and children who survive you, your spouse inherits all of your community property and 1/2 or 1/3 of your separate property.  If only your spouse and parents survive you, they split your separate property equally, but your spouse inherits all of the community property.  The same is true for siblings and a spouse, if your parents are not living at the time of your death.
Who are legally considered to be “children?”
Children who have been legally adopted receive a share along with any biological children.  However, foster children or stepchildren that were not legally adopted do not automatically receive a share. Children you placed for adoption and who were legally adopted by another family are no longer entitled to a share of your estate.
Special Circumstances in Nevada
There are a few other special circumstances that warrant mentioning.  Children you conceived, but were not born before your death (posthumous children) can still receive a share.  Children born outside of marriage can only receive a share of your estate if it can be proven that you acknowledge them as your children and contributed to their support.
So-called   “half” siblings inherit as any other sibling would.  Relatives entitled to an intestate share of your property will inherit whether or not they are citizens or legally in the United States.  Finally, Nevada’s “killer” rule says, that anyone who feloniously and intentionally kills you, will not receive a share of your estate.  If you have any questions regarding inheritance and intestate succession, or need assistance in will drafting in Nevada, please give us call.

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